Monthly Archives

June 2017

RADIUS Ventures: Building Your Powerful Network

By | Community, RADIUS Ventures, Slingshot Accelerator | No Comments

“Build a strong network” is advice that many entrepreneurs often receive, but how do you go about actually doing this? For starters, you can apply to the RADIUS Slingshot Accelerator program. Building strong networks is goal across all RADIUS programs – and a program highlight for entrepreneurs in the Slingshot Accelerator.

RADIUS takes a network entrepreneur approach to the ventures in our programs. It’s a term borrowed from the Stanford Social Innovation Review to describe a kind of entrepreneur that “expands far beyond the boundaries of their own organization, supporting peers and partners across sectors to solve the problem.” We immerse every innovator and entrepreneur in a supportive network of cohort peers, and a broader network of experts, advisors, partners, funders and clients.

A Cohort to support you

Entrepreneurs in both the Slingshot Accelerator and the Trampoline pre-accelerator program benefit from participating in a cohort-based educational series focused on building leadership capacity, management skills and business acumen. Through the series, the cohort builds bonds of trust and comradeship. Entrepreneurship is about hard skills – but it’s also about your capacity to persevere through inevitable challenge. The strength of your network is a key determinant in your capacity to successfully navigate those challenges

A Team of Program Delivery Partners

The Slingshot Accelerator provides ventures with the opportunity to connect and work with best-in-class Program Delivery Partners. Ventures will tap into the passion and business expertise of Partners including (list and link to three partners), who will provide in-kind services and facilitate sessions and workshops throughout the program.

An Advisory Board and mentors

More than 30 mentors support RADIUS ventures through the mentor network. Areas of expertise include branding, strategy, design thinking, entrepreneurship, sales, and more! Each venture in the Slingshot Accelerator has a dedicated advisory board and the opportunity to seek 1-1 guidance with select mentors in the pool. Mentorship has repeatedly been identified as one of the highest predictors of success in accelerators – we’ll work with you to build the mentor network you need.

An Entrepreneur in Residence in your corner

Entrepreneurs in the Slingshot Accelerator will benefit from one-on-one support from our seasoned entrepreneurs-in-residence, Donovan Woollard and Mike Rowlands.

Donovan Woollard is a Co-Director of RADIUS and oversees the Ventures program. Donovan spent four years as founding COO with Offsetters, Canada’s leading carbon management firm, where he built a 24-person team with a blue-chip list of clients and partners. He has also worked for Vancity, BC Hydro, and Ecotrust, and continues to help launch and grow responsible business initiatives with his company Transom Enterprises to.

Mike Rowlands is President & CEO of Junxion Strategy. In addition to leading Junxion and working with RADIUS, he’s an Executive Producer of the annual Social Venture Institute, Director of the Social Venture Network and serves on the Board of Directors of Hollyhock. As a B Corp Ambassador, helping to accelerate the growth of that community of responsible businesses.

A collection of Perks to make business better

New to the Slingshot Program this is year, the Perks Program builds you network by connecting you with complimentary or discounted access to productivity tools and softwares including  Clausehound, a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses, and Sage Accounting, an accounting and bookkeeping software.

A Network to support and amplify your work

At the end of the day, it’s about building your business alongside a supportive community that can celebrate your highs and lift you up from your lows. The Stanford Social Innovation Review suggests that the “potential for impact increasing exponentially when leaders leverage resources of all types—leadership, money, talent—across organizations and sectors toward a common goal”– we couldn’t agree more.  

As a community of communities, RADIUS understands what the power of networks for entrepreneurs – and now we want to help grow yours!

Apply for Slingshot or Trampoline Today!

RADIUS Ventures’ Health Promotion Focus: Different Branches

By | RADIUS Ventures, Slingshot Accelerator | No Comments

Since we announced our focus on health promotion and $25K equity investment in every venture that successfully completes the Slingshot Accelerator, we’ve had a number of inquiries about the scope of our health promotion focus. These are great questions which we hope to shed light on with this post. Here are some areas, or “branches”, encompassed in our shift towards supporting health promotion-focused entrepreneurs and ventures with innovative business models. Note that this list is not exhaustive. If you think your venture could be a fit for one of our programs, apply by June 30th!

Prevention and early detection of lifestyle-based chronic diseases

Included under the health umbrella are ventures promoting positive habit formation – whether in relation to food and nutrition, physical activity and exercise, respectful use of addictive substances, or another area of healthy living. Extensive consultations with leading Canadian health experts highlighted the prevalence of lifestyle-based chronic disease in Canadian populations; you can read more about those consultations here.

Mental health

Ventures creating valuable tools and resources for individuals living with mental health conditions are invited to apply to one of our Ventures programs. These can include learning tools, symptom management products and systems, support for medication compliance and/or compatibility, assistance with social integration and other meaningful interventions pertinent to persons living with mental health conditions.  

Addictions and the opioid crisis

Ventures doing meaningful work to mitigate the staggering effects of BC’s ongoing opioid crisis are strongly encouraged to apply for RADIUS’ Slingshot Accelerator. The present crisis is, in large part, affecting the province’s most vulnerable groups. Ventures working on innovating safer methods of opiate consumption, systems level responses to the overdose crisis, emerging overdose prevention technologies and other meaningful interventions pertaining to safe drug consumption are welcome to apply.

Remote access to public health services

If your venture is working on improving access to public health services for individuals who have traditionally experienced limited or poor access to these services, you are wholeheartedly encouraged to apply to one of our programs. This can include access to tele-health services, remote diagnoses, improved access to prescriptions and medications or any other meaningful interventions that increase access to health services for traditionally underserved populations – whether for geographical, social or economic reasons.

As mentioned above, these are just a few possible areas encompassed by our focus on health promotion. If you think your early stage venture might be eligible for one of our programs, apply by June 30th or shoot the RADIUS Ventures team an email at ventures@radiussfu.com if you have questions.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Three Projects Awarded SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Funding

By | Funding, Social Innovation | No Comments

The SFU Student Social Innovation Seed Fund is a joint initiative of RADIUS and Embark Sustainability that supports radical change endeavours with social and environmental impact at their core. The Fund allocates sums ranging from $200-$1000 to SFU graduate and undergraduate student social innovators.

Three remarkable student initiatives were awarded funding in the fourth and final round of the 2016-17 Seed Fund. Read about them in their own words below:

Virtual Reality (VR) as an Ethnographic Medium

This virtual reality (VR) project introduces K-12 classrooms to faraway countries, customs and people via “virtual field trips” in order to increase empathy, awareness and understanding of other cultures.

About Rachel
Rachel Ward is a PhD student in the School of Interactive Arts + Technology at Simon Fraser University. As a member of SIAT’s Making Culture Lab (MCL), Rachel strives to develop new digital methods in the field of cultural anthropology.

Find Rachel’s project online:
http://hennessy.iat.sfu.ca/mcl/staff/rachel-ward-phd-student/

Voices Against Extremism

Voices Against Extremism aims to promote diversity and inclusion by giving everyone a voice and hosting events that bring people of different backgrounds together. We believe in the power of art and storytelling as a way to bring attention to the issue of radicalization and extremism.

About us:
We are a team of current and formed Simon Fraser University students standing up against extremism and radicalization. We want to bring people together and show we all have more in common than we think.

Find Voices Against Extremism online:
Website: www.voicesagainstextremism.ca
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VAECanada/
Instagram: @voicesagainstextremism

Project S.A.V.E.

Project S.A.V.E. aims to integrate writing instrument recycling programs into major education establishments in Metro Vancouver. Partnered with Staples, we strive towards recycling and reusing stationary wastes to divert them from our landfills. Additionally, we educate and inspire students to start incorporating waste reducing methods into their daily activities for a more sustainable lifestyle.

About us: 
Project S.A.V.E. is comprised of SFU undergraduate students who are passionate about environmental sustainability. We are determined to make a positive change in this world by educating and promoting new methods of recycling.

Find Project S.A.V.E. online:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BCProjectSAVE/

We wish all three projects the very best and look forward to hearing about their learnings along the way!

Meet RADIUS Ventures’ Program Delivery Partners!

By | RADIUS Ventures, Slingshot Accelerator | No Comments

As a core part of the Slingshot Accelerator program, we provide ventures with the opportunity to connect and work with best-in-class Program Delivery Partners. Read on to meet Junxion Strategy, Manning Elliott, and Miller Titerle + Company and learn about their offering, commitment and support.

Apply for the Slingshot Accelerator Today! 

Slingshot Accelerator Marcom Partner: Junxion Strategy

With offices in Vancouver and London, Junxion Strategy is an international impact consultancy that works to catalyse progress on social and environmental sustainability. They inspire conscious leadership and nurture trusted organizations, consulting on strategy and planning, branding and communications, and impact measurement and reporting.

Mike Rowlands is President & CEO of Junxion Strategy and is RADIUS Ventures’ Entrepreneur in Residence. His goal is to ensure that the social entrepreneurs in RADIUS accelerators  STAY entrepreneurial 10+ years after the program. “Early stage social ventures are most ripe to blend strategy, brand, and impact measurement; it’s much harder to do this in a larger organization,” shared Mike.

An entrepreneur himself, Mike leads Junxion, works with RADIUS, and is Director of the Social Venture Network. He also serves as an Executive Producer of the annual Social Venture Institute and sits on the Board of Directors of the Hollyhock Institute, and is a B Corp Ambassador, helping to accelerate the growth of that community of responsible businesses.

Junxion has spent 20 years supporting mission-minded founders, pioneers of corporate social responsibility, non-profit executives, and philanthropists. By working at all levels, from “the big guys” to early stage companies, Junxion shares varied perspectives and ways of working, for the benefit of their clients.

Junxion is excited to see RADIUS focusing on accelerating ventures that are helping people live healthy lives. More than 40% of Junxion’s clients have worked in the healthcare sector. “Healthcare is the most complex of sectors,” shared Mike Rowlands, “ new ventures need to understand their place in the rapid rollout of new technologies, the sheer scale, the multiple union and labour relationships, the role of human behaviour, and the inability to forecast supply and demand.” Good thing you’ll have Mike on your side!

As part of the Slingshot Accelerator Program, participants will have a chance to work with Junxion Strategy on developing their brand, strategy, and marketing and communications.

Apply for the Slingshot Accelerator Today! 

Slingshot Accelerator Accounting Partner: Manning Elliott

We are excited to have Manning Elliott join our Program Delivery Partners this year, with Adam Denny leading the initiative on behalf of the firm!

Manning Elliott was founded in 1952 and consists of over 150 dedicated chartered professional accountants and business advisors with years of experience and success working with small businesses, growing public companies, and not-for-profit organizations. The firm has worked with thousands of early stage ventures that are looking to structure their business for growth and operations.

Adam Denny specializes in private company assurance and advisory services in a wide range of industries, including retail, manufacturing, distribution and transportation sectors. He has also worked extensively with not-for-profit as well as environmental and sustainability organizations, and has been involved in the preparation and presentation of course material for Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia with respect to accounting standards for not-for-profit organizations.

“We’re excited to work with companies that are innovative and solving real problems”, relays Adam about their participation in the RADIUS Slingshot Accelerator. The firm is also rallying some of their youngest and brightest employees to get involved, build their networks, and build their understanding of early stage businesses. Adam says that it’s the opportunity to “meet and support individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset that are helping to improve people’s way of life,” that drove him and Manning Elliott to get involved.

As part of the Slingshot Accelerator Program, ventures will have access and the ability to meet 1-1 with Adam and his colleagues and ensure that accounting processes and systems are setup correctly. “We also have relationships with other financial services organizations that early stage ventures may need access to down the road,” shared Adam. From the basic accounting questions, to software, to tax-planning questions – Manning Elliott will be able to support ventures with answering their questions. Want to ensure you get off on the right foot?

Apply for the Slingshot Accelerator Today! 

Slingshot Accelerator Legal Partner: Miller Titerle + Company

Miller Titerle is committed to changing the way people think about business lawyers and the legal industry. Founded seven years ago, the firm is taking their own approach and challenging the legal status quo – and they are helping people do good things while they’re at it!

This is Miller Titerle’s second year as a Program Delivery Partner, with partner, David Ford, leading the charge. David has more than 20 years experience working with startups and early stage ventures to support corporate formation, help secure financing and preparing for exit. He specializes in technology companies and  passionate about working with ventures with a social purpose. “I’m excited about working with ventures that have interesting solutions that solve real problems”, shared David, “I enjoy working with entrepreneurs, particularly those that are working to do some god work in the world.”

David encourages early stage entrepreneurs to work with lawyers earlier rather than later. “It’s about ensuring that you have the protections and structures in place so you can avoid things blowing up two years down the road.” Thanks David – we agree! But not just risk mitigation, it’s also about setting yourself up for long term success. “Involving professionals early and beginning to develop relationships with lawyers and accountants is important,” advises David. “Have them work together, a little bit of cooperation early on can go a long way.”

This year we are excited to be able to provide ventures with that coordinated and collaborative approach to legal and accounting. The goal will be to keep things simple and clean, and ensure that all of the ventures are set up for success.

Apply for the Slingshot Accelerator Today! 

Slingshot ventures will have the opportunity to tap into the passion and business expertise of our Program Delivery Partners, which provide in-kind services to the ventures directly as well as facilitate a series of sessions and workshops throughout the duration of the program.

To access all of the benefits of the RADIUS Slingshot Accelerator, including the $25K equity investment for every venture, early stage ventures that help people live healthy lives should apply before June 30th 2017.

The RADIUS Slingshot Accelerator supports early stage impact ventures. Through Slingshot’s unique combination of cohort based learning, individualized mentorship and equity investment – we support you in becoming investment, market and growth ready. Interested in becoming a Program Delivery Partner? We’d love to chat. Feel free to reach us at ventures@radiussfu.com

RADIUS Ventures’ Big, Audacious Problem Space

By | RADIUS Ventures, Slingshot Accelerator | No Comments

In this post, we will continue the discussion that RADIUS Co-Director Donovan Woollard began in his recent blog post, Thought Leadership: Building Positive Health Outcomes Through Social Entrepreneurshipas well as recap a roundtable discussion that was held with six health experts at the RADIUS Hub on May 23rd.

RADIUS Ventures is currently recruiting social businesses that are working to support the prevention and early detection of lifestyle-based chronic diseases. Learn about our current enrollment opportunities at our upcoming information session on June 8th or apply now!

Helping people live healthier lives. Few issues cut across so many aspects of our social and economic systems, how we build our communities, and the way we as individuals interact with the world. When RADIUS set out to understand the opportunities for new start-up ventures to support the prevention and early detection of lifestyle-based chronic disease, we knew that we were biting off a lot.

So last week we engaged six of Vancouver’s top thinkers and practitioners in the healthcare space to help us to refine our focus in a direction that could lead to positive impact. The following is an account of that process and its findings.

The key take-away? That these are truly sticky, complex, and pervasive problems. Even in stereotypically health-conscious Vancouver for instance, an estimated 7% of the population suffer from diabetes, 6% suffer from multiple chronic diseases, and 15% are obese. Simon Fraser University, the City of Vancouver and other partners are participating in the global “Cities Changing Diabetes” program to better understand and address this challenge at multiple scales. Addressing health challenges required taking on everything from urban design to personal habits and motivations.  

To that end, RADIUS Ventures’ Slingshot and Trampoline programs will be focusing on ventures with innovative business models that promote the delivery and adoption of healthful products in at-risk populations. This may include ventures in the following spaces:

a) the delivery and adoption of healthful products in at-risk populations. This may include ventures in the following spaces:

  • Food and nutrition
  • Active transportation
  • Fitness
  • Respectful use of addictive substances
  • mental health and
  • Positive habit formation in general

b) remote access to public health services (tele-health, remote diagnosis, etc.)

It’s big and it’s broad, but we are confident it’s the right place for us to focus in 2017-18.  Here’s why:  

The Idea Generators

As we moved towards a more refined health focus for our ventures programming based around accelerating ventures that help people live healthy lives, our team spent four months interviewing over 30 experts in both the health sector and community development space to better understand the drivers of the problem and leverage points where social entrepreneurs could contribute meaningfully to the prevention and early detection of lifestyle-based chronic disease.

Our roundtable last week brought together six individuals with deep expertise and unique perspectives to work together with our team to frame a problem statement. The problem statement was intended to guide all aspects of the RADIUS Ventures program, specifically our Slingshot accelerator program.  

Each of the roundtable participants had their own unique background and expertise to draw from – ranging from public health policy makers to a digital health CEO – and the breadth of perspectives and opinions made for a rich discussion.

Our participants included:

Diane Finegood, SFU Professor and former President and CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research

Andrew Taylor, Principal at KMJ Impact Consulting and former Executive Vice President and VP Investments of Grand Challenges Canada

Michael Fergusson, CEO of Ayogo, a digital health company applying design patterns from mobile games, location-based services, and behavioral economics to patient engagement

Dr. John Millar, Clinical Professor at the School for Population and Public Health at UBC and former Executive Director of Population and Public Health for PHSA

Jesse Veenstra, Project Manager, Population & Public Health at Vancouver Coast Health and former Project Manager at Healthy Families BC, PHSA

Mara Hansen Staples, Independent Global Health Consultant for organizations such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH, Avenir Health, Gavi, and Pharos Global Health

Each participant had their own challenging questions for us, as well as insights and ideas to share. We are so grateful for their time and participation!

The RADIUS Way

To facilitate a greater shared understanding of our participants’ motivations, directions and unique contributions, we kicked off the session by asking the participants to chose an image from a number of cards that represented the motivation(s) for why they do the work they do. There were common themes across the group, one of them being a passion for solving complex problems.

We followed this exercise with a walk-through of our criteria and process for defining the ‘target zone’ for possible viable problem areas, while ensuring that the problem area would allow us and our ventures to address a key system leverage point, focus on primary innovation and leverage RADIUS’ strengths and assets.

We then moved into a more generative exercise where we asked the participants to work within the health promotion scope and the defined target zone to brainstorm viable problem areas, specific target groups and conditions and factors influencing the problem areas.

Supporting innovative approaches to delivery and adoption of healthful products

There were a number of insights that came out of the session: Youth and children, it turns out, are an especially impactful group to target given their adaptability and capacity to form new habits and skills; we were advised to focus more broadly versus narrowly in our problem statement; there is a challenge with respect to finding profitable business models in the prevention space; and we came to terms with the feeling of understanding these challenges, but not knowing how to move the needle in terms of addressing these big, complex problems.

In the end, we didn’t find a “nice tidy problem statement” to recruit around. We did, however, derive insight and understanding into the nuanced nature of this challenging space. There was also consensus among the group around leveraging innovative business models for the delivery in addition to the adoption of healthful products. For instance, healthy food already exists; the challenge is to structure a business model specifically designed to get it into the mouths of people who truly need it!  

Want to get involved with RADIUS Ventures? Come talk to us!

So there you have it: our big, audacious problem space. RADIUS Ventures’ Slingshot and Trampoline programs will be focused on ventures with innovative business models that promote the delivery and adoption of healthful products in at-risk populations.

Interested in learning more? Join us on June 8th for an information session at the RADIUS Hub; visit the RADIUS Ventures website for program and application information; and send an email to ventures@radiussfu.com if you have specific questions or suggestions for the Ventures team.